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I trust him. Or do I?

Nancy wrote:

Most of my life I have had a rather negative image of myself in general, but particularly of my physical appearance. My boyfriend of more than a year is a wonderful man who is kind, loving, and tries to frequently tell me I'm attractive. His sexual desire for me is apparent. He also is respectful and does not openly lust after other women (as I've had some previous boyfriends do.) I can logically tell myself to count my blessings and be happy with that much, but for some reason, these terrible feelings seem to overwhelm me on many an occasion...

I believe him when he tells me I'm attractive, but I never seem to feel attractive enough. I know he's happy with me emotionally--we get along so well and have so much in common--but I always have this lingering feeling (I believe inspired mostly from the media) that deep down, if my same personality was also in the body of Britney Spears (random example) that he would definitely pick her over me, so he's really just settling for what he can have (which is me--no Britney Spears)--therefore I fear I never will truly be what he really desires.

The weird thing is, when I force myself to look at the general population of women, I know that I am probably more attractive than 80% of them, but inspite of that I never feel attractive enough.

Even though I feel confident that he loves me and would not cheat on me or betray me, I cannot seem to get rid of this constant jealousy of women who are prettier, because gorgeous women are constantly flaunted (both in the media and from male conversations I hear in daily life) as being what men "really" want--not to mention that it is constantly portrayed that the idea of monogamy for a man is apalling, and men who are faithful only do so to keep the woman who they emotionally connect with--otherwise they'd all be having harims on the side.

I guess I just don't know how to seperate love from physical attraction, because the only man I ever desire is my boyfriend. The thought of making love to anyone else, is sickening to me. How am I supposed to feel completely loved when it seems that men are always going to lust after other women? Even if I know he wouldn't act on it, it drives me nuts to think he most likely is attracted to other women.

I wish his emotional love for me were enough for me not to care if he is attracted to someone else.

If you're tired of reading, you can stop here when I've left things general, or you can read on, and I will get more specific.

A situation recently came up where I am convinced he's attracted to--of all things--one of his high school TAs (we work at the same school). I have seen him do a couple of things around her that I have never seen him doing with anyone but me (and we've been together 1 1/2 years). For instance he put his hand on her back as she left the room, he leans in close when he talks to her like he does with me, and the other day I walked in and she was doing work in her almost nothing miniskirt almost underneath his desk as he leaned over her to use his computer--it looked way to cozy for a teacher and student. I've talked to him about it, and he was extremely hurt I would think such a thing, but he said he'd try to be more careful and aware of his behaviors with her.

Now my feelings are intensified all the more, because I feel like all those feelings I discussed earlier are geared toward a real person. I know he would never admit he's attracted to this girl or anyone else--let alone act on it--but these feelings are burning me up inside and I just want them to stop. Any advice would be appreciated.

Dear Nancy

I might be very wrong here, but it sounds like you are simply looking for trouble. He cannot help what she wears, or how she acts. And you admit to serious self doubts.

Instead of trying to rationalize your fears, and trying to blame an outsider, isn't it time to examine your relationship? If that's ok, then no outsider will break it. If there's problems, blaming an outsider won't help.

Talk to him.

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